The Corinth Wesleyan Church, established in 1873, grew to be the largest church in the Champlain Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist denomination in the late 50’s and early 60’s. At its zenith, it achieved a Sunday School attendance of over 300 persons. The normal SS attendance was consistently over 200. In its later years, attendance waned to the extent that, in the early 2000’s, the pastor declared that “this church is no longer dying…it’s dead.”
Shortly thereafter the Corinth Wesleyan Church discontinued all services and activities. In one of the most irresponsible and bizarre actions I have ever heard of, the church officials simply locked the doors, walked away and listed it with a realtor. It was a heartbreaking action for those members who loved the church which was their spiritual sanctuary. The officials left everything behind. They did not save or retrieve a single thing.
Recently, my brother, Steve, was able to retrieve ALL of the churches baptism, marriage and funeral records from 1873 to the day the doors closed. He also retrieved the financial books and the quarterly conference meeting minutes. I have been scanning every non-financial page and will make the PDF’s available to anyone who wants them when I am finished.
You can’t image my excitement as I witnessed kinfolk after kinfolk showing up as elected officers…the backbone of the church. Even grampa and gramma Dayton (Wilber and Jessie) were elected church officials several times.
From time to time in future posts, I will be revealing findings and observations. I even held an elected position once…assistant bell ringer. Hey…it’s in the official records so it must have been a big deal. Let’s face it, the pastor wouldn’t have known when to start, were it not for us bell ringers. Another Dayton ringer alumnus was Roger Dayton. Congratulations Roger.
Rev. Charles Alexander Dayton, my Uncle Chop, was a man who was bigger than life. He was the Paul Bunyan of Upstate New York country pastors. But in his younger days he was the Huckleberry Finn of the upper-Hudson River. Todays story is a tale of a childhood prank gone bad as told by his younger brother Chip [Chester]….the master story teller.
It hardly seems possible that it’s been 21 years since our Dayton reunion in Corinth. Kids that attended are now married with their own offspring, thus starting a new generation of Dayton’s. I think especially of the Humbert kids and their cute rendition of “King of the Universe.” Video of our 1998 Dayton Family Reunion is now available on my youtube channel. Jan Manley taped the entire event, and now, thanks to her, we can relive that fun time spent together in June in Corinth. Nearly the entire event has been filmed. The filming has been broken down into 26 individual videos, so you can only watch what you want. These are the videos:
Wilber Dayton sends his greetings from Macon, GA
Breakfast footage of attendees and table chat with Jan Manley commenting
Tour of Dayton Brothers sawmill led by Paul Dayton.
Tour of Henry and Christie Daytons graves in Dayton cemetery on Hadley Hill led by Paul Dayton with Family History commentary by Jim Dayton.
Tour of Charles and Nancy Dayton’s graves at Dean Cemetery in Stony Creek led by Jim Dayton.
Tour of David and Chloe Dayton’s graves at 9N Cemetery in Lake Luzerne led by Jim Dayton.
Viewing of outside of Wilber and Jessie’s House on Mechanic St by Jan Manley and Cammie Luckey.
Priscilla Tyler leads children’s games (watermelon seed spitting).
Interview with Sam Tyler.
Invocation by Wilber Dayton with accompanying photo montage of reunion.
Chester Dayton reciting Psalm 93.
Congratulatory letter from Governor George Pataki (New York State).
Prayer for Wilber by Rev. Leonard Humbert.
Dinner footage of attendees and table chat with Jan Manley commenting.
Audience participation in singing of George Washington Bridge led by Keith Tyler.
Photo montage set to a hilarious light bulb joke about religious denominations.
Nancy Dayton sings a beautiful rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
Keith Tyler’s little Tommy joke.
Chester Dayton [Chip} reciting Mia Carlotta, by Louis Untermeyer.
Humbert Kids sing “King of the Universe”.
Jim Dayton tells a story about Charles (Chop) Dayton’s strength.
Roger Dayton tells a story a Chop, Gerald Ralph and he on scaffolding.
Chester Dayton Tells the Story of Chop and the Cigar Cutter.
Jenn VanTol presents a plaque containing Psalm 23 and the signatures of the attendees.
Jim Dayton thanks everyone for coming to the reunion.
Last week’s quiz: Did you know that we have eight grampas or grammas who were Mayflower pilgrims to America and landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620? Can you name any?
Below is a chart created by Steve Dayton. It shows each Mayflower ancestor and the lineage by which we connect from Wilber Sr. to the ancestor. If you know your lineage to Wilber Sr., you can trace your lineage back to the Pilgrims with this chart. Deane, son of Wilber Jr., is a member of the prestigious Mayflower Society by way of John Billington. If you wish to learn more about the membership requirements or about grampa Billington, you can contact Deane at email@example.com.
You can find lots of information about these ancestors on the internet. We, Paul Dayton kids, have two more Pilgrims on mom’s side. My Jim Dayton family has a tradition that maybe you would like to try. I have six grandchildren. Each year, I choose one grandchild and one ancestor. He or she researches the ancestor and gives an oral report to the family as we all gather around the table on Thanksgiving Day. Too bad our Pilgrim ancestors didn’t hand us down their favorite recipe to make our Thanksgiving Day complete. If you want any information on our Mayflower grampas and grammas, drop me an email. I’ll try to help as much as I can. Oh, another thing my grandkids like to do is a school writing assignment about the Pilgrims—also Johnny Appleseed, William the Conqueror and Charlemagne—but they are not Dayton ancestors.
John Howland, a servant, gets special mention. I imagine every movie script ever written about the Mayflower’s crossing of the Atlantic, even including the Charlie Brown’s version, gets mention of grampa Howland. In a raging storm, Howland fell overboard. Miraculously, he was able to grab a loose rope. Some fellow passengers struggled to pull him back on board, and he lived to tell about it. Certainly, googling could tell more about the daring rescue. Youtube has many videos about the event. You can even view my granddaughter Addison delivering a speech about grampa Howland at our thanksgiving dinner last year. Click here for “Addie’s report on Mayflower Pilgrim John Howland”.
During the 1998 reunion, we photographed the offspring of each of the children of Wilber and Jessie Belle Dayton who attended the reunion. The following is ….
Paul Dayton’s Biography
Paul Dayton was born June 29, 1923, during the roaring twenties. His father was 53 and his mother was 43 when he was born. His oldest sibling, Flossie, was 18 years older. Then came his brother Chop, 15 years older, Chip, 13 years older and Wilber, 7 years older. By the time he reached his teenage years, his father was 66, his mother was 56 and all his brothers and sisters had left home, so baby Paul grew up as though he were an only child, even though he could call four siblings his brothers and sister. His parents raised him with the advantage of a lifetime of knowledge and experiences. His mother and father were in a unique position of experimenting with the phrase “If I had it to do over again, I would…”, with respect to rearing Paul. His parents did have it to do over again, but without the energy and idealism that characterizes youth. In his teenage years, Paul lived through the great depression.
To understand Paul, one needs to understand a little bit of his parents. His father, Wilber, was orphaned at the age of 13. Wilber’s father and mother died just 6 months apart, he of kidney and liver disease in the autumn of 1882 and she of heart disease in spring of 1883. Without adults or government welfare programs to care for them, Wilber, his brother Jim, and sisters Jennie and Carrie had to survive on their own. They had their parents’ farm on Hadley Hill and little else. They fed themselves from the land, had the farmhouse for shelter and clothed themselves with rags. At one point, Wilber missed church and school because he had no shoes to wear. Wilber quit school in the seventh grade when the teacher had taught him all she could about mathematics. He figured if there was nothing new to learn then he had better things to do. His older teenage brother James took care of the family, but it was a harsh, survival existence. Wilber was a very industrious, hard worker throughout his entire life. This came from that survival experience.
Wilber was content with very little in the way of conveniences and possessions. He never owned a car and never had a driver’s license even though he lived until 1957. Although he lived in town, he heated his house with wood and coal. Most houses had long ago converted to oil. He had a very large garden and raised all the produce for his family up to the time of his death at age 87. He worked as a laborer his entire life and preferred this type of work. He was an extremely quiet man. His own family hardly ever heard him speak and he never spoke in public. He seldom smiled. He had the characteristics of chronic clinical depression, although being diagnosed and treated for the illness would have been nearly impossible because of his timid disposition. Wilber attended church regularly, but never took a role in the leadership of the church. He also did not provide the spiritual training at home. He left that for Jessie. But he did provide an exemplary model of humility, integrity and hard work that were his trademark. It is easy to recognize this characteristic in his children.
In contrast, Paul’s mother Jessie Belle was outgoing. She too grew up on a farm on Hadley Hill not far from Wilber. She undoubtedly knew Wilber as she was growing up, although she was 10 years younger. Her father died when she was 26. Her mother was widowed a total of three times and lived her last years with Chester and Elizabeth Dayton. She enjoyed school as a youngster and always wanted to be a schoolteacher. She provided the spiritual training for her children and administered the discipline. She was a great homemaker including cooking, sewing and other domestic skills. Her ginger snaps were my favorite. She made “blueberry grunt” to die for!
Against this backdrop, Paul’s upbringing was very disciplined and strict. He must have been very mature for his age, given the sum of all the conditions I have just described. In fact, he was probably never a baby, but rather emerged from his mother’s womb as a young man. Paul did enjoy toys though. He had a large canister of marbles, bubble gum baseball cards, and Big Little books, including Little Orphan Annie and Dick Tracy. One Christmas he dreamed of having a train. He got a train which, at that time, seemed extravagant beyond reason. He inherited a newspaper delivery route from his big brother Wilber, as well as Wib’s Columbia bicycle. He also earned spending money by picking and selling strawberries. When the banks failed during the great depression, dad had $80 in the bank. He recovered all of it.
He enjoyed many different sports, but never competed in school. The coach encouraged him to play on the soccer team, but his newspaper route came first. He enjoyed participating in soccer, cross-country running, ice-skating, ice hockey and baseball. At Corinth Central high school, he took a college prep course load including math, sciences and Latin. He also took wood and metal shop. He was first chair in the high school band, where he played the cornet. He graduated from high school with a New York State Regents Diploma in 1941.
He had courted Ruth Carter during most of his high school years, and he and Ruth were married on July 18, 1941. As a newly wed husband, working at the International Paper Company, and expecting their first child, the United States Selective Service draft board served notice that he was to report for induction into the Armed Forces. This was during World War II, and Paul recalls that he was convinced that he was going to be sent to a foreign country to die, As frightening as the prospect of an untimely death was, it was magnified a hundred-fold because of his sense of commitment and responsibility to his young bride and unborn child. At the induction ceremonies, only two men were singled out from the many army inductees to serve in the Navy. He did not understand why he had been selected to serve in the Naval Branch. However, death at sea was as real as death in the trenches and foxholes.
Basic training was intense, but Paul persevered. As a part of basic training, the sailors were given a battery of tests. Paul scored high on the tests and was assigned to an electronics unit that was working on the development and testing of radar equipment. Radar was a new technology that was developed to spot air traffic including inbound enemy aircraft and ships. He was again singled out from a very large number of trainees that were bound for assignments on war ships, submarines and naval aircraft to fight the enemy. Instead, he was sent to an electronics school in Grove City College, PA. Upon completion of his schooling, he was sent to Cocoa Beach, Florida, Naval Air station. There, he was a member of a crew who flew missions, in pontoon aircraft, up and down Banana River, near Cocoa Beach. His job was to perform various tests on the new radar technology, so that it would be mission ready for deployment to the fighting forces. They also dropped practice bombs on targets in the Banana River, which must have been a lot of fun.
While there, his wife and new daughter, Mary, were able to join him. They lived in a small one-room cottage in Cocoa Beach. During the height of World War II, when fighting men were deployed and killed all over the globe, Paul, Ruth and Mary were living together, safely within the borders of the United States. Paul was at the leading edge of technological developments. After Cocoa Beach, he was sent to Corpus Christi, Texas. His wife lived at home, but visited him. At the end of the war, Paul was Honorably Discharged and returned to civilian life in Corinth, NY. He had not only survived the war; he had never left American soil. Because of his electronics training, experience and recommendation, Philco Company offered Paul a lucrative job in the Philippines when he was discharged. He refused the offer, and I don’t suppose he even thought twice about it. He felt the Adirondack Mountains calling him to return home, and he followed the call.
Upon his return, his brother Chester (AKA Chip) offered Paul employment in the logging and pulpwood business. Their first job was logging Stone Mt. Later they set-up a sawmill on Hadley Hill on land that was a part of the old Dayton homestead. Chip had purchased the land from “Uncle Jim,” Wilber’s brother. It was a very small-scale mill powered with a Buick engine. While there, Paul had an accident in which he almost lost his leg. While chopping the branches from a downed tree, his ax hit an overhead branch on the downswing. The glancing blow struck Paul in the calf and sliced the calf down to the bone. It left a huge scar on his leg.
In September 1947, Paul and Chip founded Dayton Brothers Lumber Company, purchased land and built a permanent sawmill on Wall St. in Corinth. Many Dayton men can truthfully affirm that they worked on Wall St. in New York during their illustrious careers. It looks impressive on a resume. Their partnership lasted the remainder of their working lives, and Paul remained in the business for 50 years. The greater part of Dayton Brothers lumber went to the International Paper Co. in Corinth, where it was used for many applications including boxcar bumpers, pallets, railroad ties, dam splashboards and various construction jobs. Dayton Brothers also produced lumber for many local home building contractors and Arthur White and Sons Lumber Company in Corinth. Over the years, they produced lumber for many industrial operations in the area – primarily for pallets. They were known for their quality lumber, and they offered it at the lowest cost in the area. Unlike many entrepreneurs, Chip and Paul took care of most of the overhead themselves. Chip kept the books. Paul did the taxes. They both were very skilled mechanics, and they took care of all the repairs and upkeep of the mill and vehicles themselves. Paul handled most of the customer sales. For mill operations, Chip was the sawyer. He mastered the job and produced quality lumber with minimal waste. Paul was the edger. He was on the tail end of the saw and piled the wood after it came off the saw. He also edged and trimmed the raw material.
The sawmill business was very physically demanding. Of the two brothers, Paul had the larger frame and more muscle mass, so he did the bulk of the physical work. He would muscle a log around the rollway with the skill that few loggers possessed. His strength was extraordinary. He never rested either. He usually started work at seven and ended at four. Except for an hour every noon for a lunch break, he was constantly in motion doing some physical job.
Danger and injuries went with the job. He was not careless, but accidents happened. In the summer of 1959, a lumber pile of heavy timbers fell on him, causing a compound fracture of the leg. He was laid up for several months. I recall another time when he came home at an unusual hour when he should have been working. He walked into the kitchen, and it became quickly apparent why he was there. A sliver of wood about the dimensions of a six-inch dagger had penetrated his body just below the armpit. Instead of going to the doctor, Ruth helped him extract it, and then he returned to work. His finger was severely injured when he stuck it into the revolving blades of the large planer in the planing mill. One day he was working underneath his car when the jack gave way. The Lord spared his life, but his knee was injured. One day at the sawmill, the brakes failed on the forklift as he was backing it down a hill. A tractor was at the bottom of the hill with forks raised. The mammoth forklift struck the tractor, and its raised forks pierced the forklift on both sides of him at chest high level. Six inches left or right, and he would have been killed instantly. Sawmill work was physically strenuous and dangerous. It was an honest, yet difficult way to make a living, and Paul enjoyed it.
Dayton Bros. provided employment opportunity for many relatives and a few friends over the 50 years of operation. In no particular order, and to the best of my recollection, the list of employees is as follows: Harold Chapman, Alex Winslow, Art Winslow, Roger Dayton, Steve Dayton, John Dayton, Jim Dayton, Danny Lamos, Andy Fuller, Bill Fuller, Ray Orton, Duane Orton, Priscilla Dayton, Ruth Mary Dayton, Carolyn Ruth Dayton.
The sawmill business provided a comfortable, middle-working class existence. Paul bought new cars every 2-3 years from the late 40’s through 1966. He was partial to Fords during his earlier years and later became interested in any model that was a bargain. He had been living in a very small apartment on the 2nd floor of his parent’s house from the time he returned from the War until 1955. In 1955, we moved into a newly constructed 3-bedroom, single bath ranch home at 7 West Mechanic St. in Corinth. He selected and modified the plans and contracted the job to Beecher Carpenter, a local contractor and carpenter. Beyond the new home and the cars, Paul did not have many other material interests. He simply did not have time for them. In his youthful family days, he frequently attended the stock car races at Menands, Fonda and later Malta. He played on the Corinth Church Men’s softball team. He enjoyed deer hunting. During his first fifty years, he always managed to find some time to fit hunting into his schedule. He and Chip frequently had venison to eat. Paul’s style of hunting was to go to where the deer were, instead of the usual method of waiting for the deer to come to the hunter’s blind. In the process, he hiked several miles during a day’s hunt. Sometimes, a deer was slain miles from the car, and it would be a Herculean feat to carry or drag the deer out of the woods. Although he always carried a compass, he seldom needed to use it. He had an instinct for location and direction when he was in the woods. On many occasions when it was not hunting season, he enjoyed going for rides in the car to spot deer in the wild. He would often drive the family to Sabattus (north of Long Lake, NY) to spot and count the deer between the main road and the dead-end about 10 to 15 miles into the Adirondack wilderness. Once each year, in August, the annual logging show was held in Tupper Lake, NY. It was a real family treat to attend the show on Saturday. We viewed the exhibits that included heavy machinery, chain saws and other logging equipment. If we were lucky, we would run across a booth with a free give-away. There was always a parade that included bagpipe bands and the heavy machinery. As an added treat, we would stop at Lake Eaton Campground for a picnic and a swim.
Paul was a family man, but his business prevented him from taking the typical family vacation that most working people enjoy. We children never felt deprived of attention or deprived of family outings. The few special overnight occasions that occurred were memorable. At least once per year, dad took the family to a baseball game in New York city. Although we usually went to Shea Stadium, the most memorable events took place at Yankee Stadium and the old Polo Grounds. In 1964, dad and I boarded a bus in Saratoga and attended a twi-night double header at Shea Stadium where the NY Mets played the Philadelphia Phillies. We arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan and took the train to Shea Stadium. We were early, and the World’s Fair was underway adjacent to the Stadium. We spent a couple hours at the fair and then attended both games. After the second game, we took the train back to Penn Station, and from there returned by bus to Saratoga. The entire trip must have taken at least 16 hours, but I don’t remember being tired. The trip with dad was exhilarating.
In about 1961, we made a family trip to NYC. It was over Labor Day weekend. The centerpiece was a double header at Yankee Stadium with the Los Angeles Angels. We sat in the right field bleachers, very near Roger Maris. My dad, Paul, was very amused by a spectator giving Maris verbal abuse. During the same trip we stayed in a Motel in the Bronx. Paul navigated the NYC subway system for most of our travel. We went to Coney Island, Times Square, 42nd St., Grand Central Station, rode the Stanton Island ferry, and visited the Bronx zoo. At the zoo, a man with Parkinson’s disease gave us a guided tour. My father paid him $20 at the end of the tour. Paul was a generous man. Around 1960, we went on a three-day vacation including the weekend to Maine and New England. We stayed at a cottage called “Dayton’s by the Sea” at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. We also visited Plymouth, MA. In 1958, we went to Wilber Dayton, Jr.’s home in Wilmore, KY for Christmas. 1953 found us in Marion, IN. Wilber Dayton, Jr. was the President of Marion College, and we visited him. I believe we may have been attending the graduation ceremonies of one of Paul’s nieces or nephews, but I am not sure. I spent a good portion of the trip resting in the ledge across the top of the back seat. We visited Houghton College on several occasions for graduations and other special events. Paul attended the West Chazy, NY church campgrounds as frequently, and for as long as he could be away from business at Dayton Brothers Lumber Co. If he was a church delegate, he spent the last week of June there. Otherwise, he was there for both weekends and often on the 4th of July. He also attended many church sponsored events including national Sunday School conferences and General Conference of the Wesleyan Church.
Most frequently, we did something as a family on Saturday. Often it was simply going shopping, and I remember that it was always a special time. We all packed into the car (seven people in a two-door coupe) and headed for Glens Falls shopping, or on more infrequent occasions, we would go the Montgomery Wards in Menands, NY. In those days, there was not the proliferation of fast food restaurants. When we went to Glens Falls, it was a real treat to eat hot dogs from the New Way Lunch on South Street. Mom would pick up an order to go and we would eat them in the car because they sold beer, and it was the “skid row” of Glens Falls. On trips to Menands, there was a White Castle Hamburger restaurant across the street from Montgomery Wards, and we always looked forward to eating those little nuggets of beef. About three or four times while I was growing up, the family would venture into downtown Albany to the State Museum. At least once each summer, the family went to a local amusement park. We would ride the tilt-a-whirl, the whip, the merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel. Paul tested his strength at the midway booth that was a tower with a bell at the top. The swing of a wooden mallet propelled a metal ring towards the bell. Often, he could clang the bell. His brother Chop rang the bell consistently. All these events were very happy times.
One summer, Dad decided that we children needed to do something recreational on Saturday. He got us out of bed at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning and at 7:00 AM we were at the Lake Luzerne beach. Of course, we were the only people at the beach, and we swam or waded for an hour. Dad was a good swimmer, but none of us children knew how to swim. At about 8 AM we returned home, where mom made us a large breakfast. This routine only lasted about 4 or 5 weeks before our protests ended the project. When I played High School football, dad and mom made it a point to attend all the games, even though they didn’t know what was going on. They wanted to show their support and were proud of their son.
More than any other single thing, what set Paul Dayton apart from other men and made him very special was his unwavering integrity and generosity. Paul was raised in a spiritually fundamentalist, holiness practicing, conservative Protestant household. The denomination, Wesleyan Methodist (later Wesleyan), broke away from the Methodist church over the issue of slavery in 1843. Later on (after Prohibition) the “Wesleyans” shifted from a progressive church at the cutting edge of social change such as abolition of slavery and women’s rights, to become the “spiritual right-wing” of the Methodist Church. Paul’s family attended all church services. In addition, bible reading, scripture memorization and prayer were routinely practiced in the home. In this environment, Paul became “born-again” as a young child. From the moment of his conversion, he was determined to live a holy lifestyle. Jesus Christ’s principles for living became the centerpiece of his life.
It was natural that as Paul and Ruth raised a family, church activities and spiritual training at home was the couple’s number one priority. If there was a church service, Paul and his family could be counted on to be there. In addition to local church activities, they also attended local camp meetings and district church activities.
Paul administered discipline in the home. He was considerate and tolerant of childish misbehavior like spilling drink or bouncing a basketball through the house, but he had no tolerance for sin, as defined by the Ten Commandments. If we were caught lying or stealing, we were immediately disciplined. We would be taken to a private place like a closed bedroom. Then we would receive a spanking that was memorable, yet not abusive. He would always say that “this is going to hurt me more than it does you,” and I knew he was sincere. After the spanking, he would ask the culprit to pray and ask God’s forgiveness for the sin. Every day, we conducted a “family altar.” We would all gather in the living room, usually after dinner. We would be read either scripture or a Bible story. Then we would get on our knees and each take a turn in prayer, in sequence from oldest to youngest. We ended the session by reciting the Lord’s prayer.
Although he took his lumber business very seriously, Dad never worked on Sunday. Sunday was the Sabbath—a day of rest. He did not buy or sell, watch television or attend activities other than church on Sundays.
Paul was very active in his church. He held positions of Trustee, Church Board of Administration, Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Church Bus driver, Young People’s Society sponsor, Choir member, special music duets with his wife, orchestra organizer and leader. In addition, he plowed the snow from the parking lot and performed many maintenance tasks. He performed much of the skilled labor during the construction of the church’s Educational Building and the new sanctuary. For many years, he taught the junior boys Sunday School class. He gave every boy a new Bible. His instruction and example left a lasting impression on the youth of the village of Corinth even after they “grew up” and “outgrew the need to attend church.”
In addition to his stewardship of time and service, Paul was a very generous donor. The Dayton Brothers donations to the local church went a great way toward support of the local building program and the underwriting of the local church operations. Paul Dayton lived a simple life, yet his actions, conduct and teaching have served as a model of moral, Christian living. He has influenced hundreds of lives in a positive manner that few men ever can.
As told by his son, Jim Dayton, September 1998.
About the Family: His wife Ruth
Ruth was born July 9, 1923, in Northumberland, NY. She moved to Corinth when she was about 3. Daughter of Archie and Blanche Carter, she had four siblings, Ernest, Harold, Marion and Arthur. She enjoyed basketball and earned a varsity letter in it. Just a month before she was to graduate from high school, Ruth quit school because she didn’t have confidence that she would pass her exams and didn’t want to face the humiliation of failure. Based on Christian Education courses she taught, and Church financial responsibilities and leadership later in life, there’s no question that she was a bright woman. She was a humble servant from the time she developed personality until the time she passed away. She always did for others and did very little for herself. She was the most selfless woman I ever knew. She always felt most comfortable being domestic, whether it was cooking, or cleaning up after messy kids. She left all discipline to Paul. She was a very emotional person, laughing hysterically at something funny until she cried. That is a common affliction in many sensitive people. Her life centered around church and family. She was a Children’s Sunday School teacher her entire adult life. She was Sunday School Treasurer and Women’s Missions Treasurer. She was church pianist, assistant organist and sang duets with husband Paul. Ruth received recognition from the Wesleyan denomination for successfully completing all courses in their Christian Education curriculum.
Mary was born June 23, 1943, in Corinth. In high school, she played the reed woodwinds, but was most accomplished on the bassoon. She graduated from Houghton Academy in 1961. Mary worked for quite a while in administrative positions at Adirondack Hospital in Corinth. She was also layout editor at The Penny Saver newspaper in Corinth. She was on the board of the local library for years. In the mid-1980’s Mary began terrible suffering from the pain of fibromyalgia. Added to that was a back injury suffered in an automobile accident. These two injuries left her mainly homebound and in constant agony. She is an avid reader, some might say a fanatical reader, and enjoys music, especially playing her piano until she could no longer sit up for extended periods of time. When she can venture from the house, she enjoys dining at local restaurants, and would make a very good restaurant reviewer for a local newspaper. Her husband Bill and she love to host guests in their home. Bill’s early career found him in ever advancing, managerial and sales and administrative posts with local and regional companies. From the mid-80’s through the mid-90’s he held several different elective positions, including mayor of Corinth. After that he held the position of Village Treasurer until his retirement. Since the beginning of Mary’s two painful illnesses, Bill has been a constant caregiver to Mary. He is the role model for good and selfless caregiving. He performs all domestic tasks. He encourages her and is a patient and loving companion. My wife has Parkinson’s and I want to be just like Bill, but no one else can be as good as he. We siblings appreciate him more than he will ever know.
Second in birth order is Jim, born July 9, 1948, in Corinth. Does his birthday look familiar? It’s the same as Ruth’s. That’s right, he was his mom’s birthday present. She probably wishes she had re-gifted him several different times. He enjoys sports and participated in some of them during high school. His favorite was football. After graduating from Corinth Central School in 1966, he attended Houghton College for two years, was graduated from Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University), A.B. in mathematics, 1970. Judy Potter and he were married August 17, 1968, in Corinth. He and Judy have two daughters, Kari and Jennifer, six grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He was employed by GTE until retirement in 1999, where he held various engineering, administrative and financial positions of increasing responsibility. He enjoys family, especially grandchildren and gr-grandchild. His soulmate and he celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018. Judy was the daughter of Bob and Becky Potter. Judy’s career was in operations and finance for Bank of America and its two predecessor merger acquisitions. She was an assistant vice president. In her year of retirement, she earned the prestigious Employee Excellence Award—only 50 employees out of 200,000 did so. She graduated from South High in South Glens Falls and attended Houghton College. She enjoys family activities and reading.
The third child of Paul and Ruth was Priscilla born July 19, 1953 in Corinth. Priscilla is musically gifted. She played the flute and the guitar. She earned her B.A. in Social Science from Houghton College. In her early career, she was a social worker. She married Keith Tyler July 14, 1979, in her home church in Corinth. Keith was a professional musician and later a Music Pastor, so Priscilla and her family (daughter Mary and Son Sam) moved several times, including Moncton, New Brunswick and Fort Wayne, IN before settling in Milton, PA. Priscilla home schooled her children Mary and Sam. Keith died in 2007, and Priscilla, Mary and Sam still reside in Milton. Her church family has become a large part of her family, and Priscilla is manager of her church’s bookstore. She is also the glue which holds our Paul Dayton family together.
The fourth child was born Jan. 12, 1955. He graduated from Corinth Central high school in 1974. Although John never pursued a career in mechanical engineering, he was a mechanical genius. Among other technical feats, he would dismantle watches and reassemble them for fun. He also made wooden clocks without patterns or instructions. He also enjoyed making wooden projects, and his creativity knew no limits. However, each project had to be made from Dayton Brothers lumber. He was a gadget guy who couldn’t resist anything truly unusual. He had a passion for the New York Mets baseball team. He collected their memorabilia, and his man cave was loaded with Mets treasures. He was a fast-pitch softball pitcher for the tri-county area church softball league. John had the following children: Diana, John, Jr., and Sarah, and stepchildren Karla, Sarah Leigh, and Peter. John and his wife Lori had a passion for Children’s Christian ministries. Lori taught children at local churches in a multitude of capacities for many years. She is also the Director of Children’s Ministries at the Holiness Association Camp Meeting at West Chazy NY each July. John worked year-round, behind the scenes, to make wooden crafts for the children to assemble and paint. Lori worked in janitorial services at Corinth Central school for several years. John died on October 20, 2018, in Saratoga Springs Hospital.
The youngest child is Steve, born December 29, 1956. He earned his B.A. in History from Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University). His post graduate work was at Penn State, with a certification in Institutional Research Analysis. Steve is currently the Institutional Research Analyst at Taylor University. He resides in Gas City, IN, with wife Nancy. Steve collected US Presidential Campaign memorabilia for 30 years. His collection has been exhibited at local libraries and was presented to college and high school groups. He enjoyed riding Triumph motorcycles until deciding lack of strength and flexibility should prevent it. He married Nancy Klinger August 17, 1991, and the couple has three children. Catie graduated from Taylor 5/18/19, and twins Sam and Grace are freshmen there. Dr. Nancy Dayton earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Miami University, in Ohio. She is presently Professor- of English Literature and Chair of the English Department at Taylor University. Steve is the author of Our Long Island Ancestors, The First Six Generations of Daytons in America 1639-1807.
Wilber was the patriarch of all the modern-day Daytons in our lineage. Nearly all the people featured in this newsletter, and the subscription list for this newsletter, descend from him. He was born October 30, 1870, on Hadley Hill, in Saratoga County, New York, to Charles and Nancy Dayton. He didn’t have much of a childhood. He was forced to become an adult when he was orphaned at the age of 13. In those days, there were no government social services or welfare programs. So, he and 3 of his 4 siblings ran the family farm in order to survive. His older brother Jim, two younger sisters, Jennie and Carrie and he lived together at the farm. The sibling’s oldest brother, Delbert had moved to Iowa so he was unavailable to help them. Family lore has it that Wilber quit school when he was 13. The teacher ran out of new material towards the end of the school year and so started teaching the same material over again. Wilber had “learned that already” so he decided he had more important things to do. According to his daughter, Flossie, he once stopped going to church one summer because he didn’t have any shoes to wear. Wilber stayed at the farm until he was married to Jessie Belle White on August 31, 1904.
After he and his siblings sold the farm, he had enough assets to buy and sell several properties around Hadley, Luzerne and Corinth. They settled down at Mechanic St. in Corinth around 1920. In his early life, he mainly cut pulp wood and sold it to International Paper Company in Corinth. Paul marvels at the fact that Wilber cut all the pulpwood with an axe. No saw. No machines! He must have had extraordinary strength and endurance. My dad called him, “all man.” Later, he was employed by the paper company in Corinth where he worked until he was in his 70’s. Wilber never owned or drove a car. He never even had a driver’s license. He did have a horse and buggy until probably about 1915-1920. At one point, he had a horse named Pontiac that ran away. Grampa knew right where to search—down the road a short distance a water trough had summoned his errant beast. He was thirsty.
He and Jessie reared five children. In birth order, they were Florence (Flossie), Charles (Chop), Chester (Chip), Wilber Jr. (Wib), and Paul. Wilber and Jessie and their children were faithful members of the Wesleyan Methodist church in Corinth. Wilber never had an opportunity to learn social skills, because he wasn’t around adults growing up, he was shy and withdrawn his entire life. Some, including my dad (Paul), suspected that he may have also suffered from clinical depression. Unwelcome personality traits are often misinterpreted or ignored.
The following is a page from his pastor’s diary, written at that time, clarifying some of the behavior he often exhibited. This is what he said about Wilber:
I can’t imagine grampa was offended by his pastor. My belief is that grampa had several psychiatric conditions, which manifested themselves in some of his undesirable behaviors. At that moment, grampa was frightened by people. So was his daughter Flossie, who quit school teaching, her love and passion for many years, because she had an inability to cope. I have struggled with similar reactions to stressful situations and are well aware of the merciful benefits of medication. Full acceptance of a need, and the availability of services and treatment for personality disorders is fairly recent.
This tempers my personal take on grandpa’s episode with his pastor. People often let mental issues fester and simmer without seeking treatment; the issues don’t get better, and they don’t go away. It’s possible that we Dayton’s have a predisposition to malfunctions of many types, inherited from Wilber Dayton, Sr. I hope you will forgive me for making that observation about our family, but it needs to be said and understood.
Wilber left the family rearing and discipline to Jessie Belle, who he called “Jess”. He was an extraordinarily good gardener (see Volume 1 Issue 1 of this weekly newsletter). I remember his well-stocked food staples in a separate room in his root cellar. Wilber was well known around the small mill town of Corinth, with a reputation for honesty and a hard work ethic. He died July 18, 1957 at his home. His death certificate sites hypertension-Cardiovascular Disease as the cause of death. That may be medical jargon for saying he died of old age. He was an honorable man who “wore himself out!” A crowd attended his viewing in the living room of Paul Dayton’s home, including the Roman Catholic priest who mentioned what an industrious man of integrity he was. I know it’s fashionable to say something like that of the dead. The big difference in this case, though, is that he was!
At Wilber and Jessie’s passing, here is their parental scorecard …their legacy:
Flossie-School teacher -A.B. degree from what was to become SUNY/Albany;
Charles-pastor and superintendent of his northern district;
Chester-Business Entrepreneur, co-owner of Dayton Brother’s Sawmill;
Wilber-Th.D.-Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, theologian, professor, pastor, writer, lecturer;
Paul-Business Entrepreneur, co-owner of Dayton Brother’s Sawmill.
Not bad for poorly educated, poverty level, orphaned child/man. How could it happen? In a Christ-centered home with integrity, generosity, consistency and LOVE!
“How in the world could the stoically proper Dayton family have a wild side?” one might ask. The answer is, we may not, but my dad got as close as it gets. In 1956, my dad, Paul, bought a new “two tone” baby blue and white, two door Ford Fairlane. At the time he was driving a 1952 ugly looking green Ford. He decided he had to sell the ’52 (a “sale by owner” transaction), before he put the new car on the road. So, the ’56 sat in the garage for what seemed to be an eternity, although it was probably less than a month.
Dad was only 33 years old at the time, but he was living a mid-life fantasy. While the new Ford was waiting in the garage, he put some aftermarket personal touches on it. The first was a Bermuda bell within an easy stretch from the clutch on the driver’s side floor. When he stepped on the stem of the bell, a reverberating “ding-dong” rang out in an unmistakable signal that Paul Dayton was coming. It was like having a bicycle bell on steroids. Then came the mud flaps. In the ‘50’s, mud flaps were not installed to keep your car clean; they were a symbol of “coolness”. They were a statement, to the world, that “this car is really cool”. Next came the lifter springs on the back of the car. These springs jacked up the rear-end of the car so it sloped slightly downhill from rear to front. It was another sign of “cool”. But the quintessential modification was the addition of a glass pack muffler. The muffler didn’t muffle hardly anything. The Ford thundered down the street with a sound so loud that it was annoying to the average person. If the engine “backfired,” the resounding “boom” added another notch on the “cool scale.” As an eight-year-old “rebel kid,” I thought my dad had the coolest car on planet earth.
In about that same era (1956 to 1960), my dad yielded to the urge to do 360° donuts in the snow in at least one unplowed intersection any time we were riding home from church. I also remember the time at a church youth group skating party on a local lake. Dad loaded the car with kids, drove down an icy embankment onto the frozen lake and then went berserk. He slipped and slid and did skids and donuts all over the ice. We were all afraid the ice would break, and we would sink, which made the ride even more heart throbbing. Obviously, I survived although I didn’t think I would at the time. Paul must have been, at least by Dayton standards, at that special moment, the “wild and crazy guy!”